Prescription drug use is killing more Victorians than the state’s road toll, according to a report in The Age.
While 242 people died on Victoria’s roads last year, there were 374 drug overdoses – 310 of them involving prescription medication. Overdose deaths data was released by the Coroners Court.
Playing a part in 164 deaths – diazepam, commonly known as Valium, was the drug that caused or contributed to the highest number of overdose deaths last year.
Victorian Drug and Alcohol Association executive officer Sam Biondo told The Age overdose deaths were a nation-wide catastrophe, with the latest Victorian figures highlighting the major influence of “medically prescribed, legal drugs.”
Mr Biondo said while the community is focused on ‘street users’, the problem was “as much about unfortunate people involved in workplace injuries and transport accidents – mums and dads who are getting caught up with powerful substances and can become addicted.”
There are calls for making prescription drugs harder to get and more stringently monitoring patient’s intake.
The issue is a world-wide problem. In the US, a study by Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit organisation in Washington found that more people are dying in the United States from prescription drugs than from heroin and cocaine combined.